The game begins seven years before Final Fantasy VII, right at the end of Midgar’s war with Wutai. Zack is a SOLDIER 2nd Class, under the mentorship of Angeal, one of the three SOLDIER 1st Class members in existence at the time. The other two are (a still sane) Sephiroth and Genesis, a man with a fixation on an epic (as in the genre, not because it’s actually any good) poem called “Loveless”, or “LOVELESS”, as the game, with its love of capitals, puts it. This fixation leads him to believe that it’s a prophecy describing him, Sephiroth and Angeal. Right before Zack and Angeal are sent to Wutai to fight in the decisive battle of the war, news spreads that Genesis has defected from SOLDIER and taken several men with him. Angeal mysteriously vanishes during the battle, and Sephiroth suggests that he may also have defected. Confused and incredulous, Zack has to deal with the situation on behalf of Shinra, with some help from Sephiroth. Along the way, he becomes a SOLDIER 1st Class, learns the meaning of being a hero and finds love. And then things go south. And east, west and north as well. In short, I found it hard to keep track of who was double-crossing whom, whose clones were doing what (or, indeed, how said clones were produced) or who was injecting himself with whose cells at any given moment. I guess it must be quite a challenge to cook up events which would be suitably challenging to qualify as a valid storyline, but also inconsequential enough that they couldn’t possibly have an impact on FFVII other than the ones we already know about.

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